Wines good for spritzers

Long, cool and refreshing – a white-wine spritzer is the perfect summer drink. Here are three wines that work well when mixed with sparkling water

Tesco Finest Fiano, Sicily, Italy 2013 (£7.99) Not really a cocktail, not quite a proper glass of wine, the spritzer is for most of the year the bland non-entity of the drinks world, a wishy-washy option of last resort, a way of making a ropey bottle acceptable. In the summer, however, the spritzer’s failings feel more like attributes – mild, undemanding, concerned only with refreshment. Strongly aromatic, fruity, unoaked white wines survive the dilution process best, affordable bottles such as Tesco’s Finest Fiano, with its peaches and orange zesty note, or Sainsbury’s Winemakers’ Selection Côtes de Gascogne 2013 (£6), where the addition of two-parts fizzy water yields a sparkling elderflower cordial with a mild alcoholic kick.

Taylor’s Chip Dry White Port, Douro, Portugal NV (£12.99, Waitrose) I’m told that in Portugal’s Douro Valley the popular alternative to the spritzer is a mix of white port and tonic, or, if you must, Portonic. I’m not sure if that really is the case: it’s always offered when I’ve visited but I wonder whether that has more to do with port producers trying to find ways of selling the stuff rather than evidence of a genuine local custom. Not that it matters: with a slice of lemon, some ice and a few sprigs of mint, Taylor’s version makes a light, dry long drink pitched somewhere between a G&T and a vermouth and lemonade. Try the same recipe with M&S’s Pink Port (£8.99) and you have a less medicinal Pimm’s.

Fragoso Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, Mendoza, Argentina 2013 (£6.99, Marks & Spencer) After a little DIY experimentation, I’ve come to the predictable conclusion that red wines simply won’t take to the spritzer treatment. No matter the quality or style of the source material or the balance of water and wine, the result always feels like a dry and dusty overdiluted squash. A much more successful way of pepping up an already chilled light and fruity red wine such as Waitrose’s LaForêt Beaujolais 2013 (£7.99) in the heat is the addition of a couple of ice cubes: there’s little dilution, but the crunchy blackberry fruit is somehow better defined. It works even better with a robust darker rosé such as Marks & Spencer’s Argentine rosé: the colour, the clink of the cubes and the berry flavours a lighter alternative to Campari.

Powered by article was written by David Williams, for The Observer on Sunday 17th August 2014 05.59 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010